Words We Shouldn’t Say

Name some clichéd terms that news sources should avoid

Last Friday New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren posted a list of “words we don’t say” to the magazine’s 6th Floor blog. The list was a leftover from former New York editor Kurt Andersen—he had left it tacked to the office bulletin board back in 1997—and contains words and phrases he felt were hackneyed, over-used, or, in Lindgren’s words, “phoney-baloney.” Fourteen years later, Lindgren says the list is still pretty useful as a guide to what should be cut from any decent magazine story. We agree.

There’s “boast” (meaning have), “graced,” “flicks,” “penned”, “sport” (as a verb), “comely,” “celeb”, “New York’s finest,” “indie” (with an exception for indie rock), “duo,” “eponymous,” and a slew of others. (Should we add “slew” to the list?). And there’s a nice dart to those hoity-toity pre-Millenium types who overused the Frenchified “fin de siècle.”

Today we’re asking what words should be added to that list. What stale and lazy words and phrases would you like your favorite news sources to kick to the curb send packing give the flick banish? And who are the worst offenders? (Feel free to include CJR.)

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , , ,